Lake Mead Is Now Lower Than Ever, But Vegas Has a Crazy Survival Plan

Illustration for article titled Lake Mead Is Now Lower Than Ever, But Vegas Has a Crazy Survival Plan

Yesterday, the surface of Lake Mead reached its lowest level since it was filled in 1937—1,080 feet above sea level. But engineers were prepared for this: A huge infrastructural project under the lake has been underway since 2008 to ensure that Vegas residents will still be able to get water, even as the drought continues.

The project, called the “Third Straw,” is one of three tunnels that have been dug beneath the lake to extract water—tunnels that have been dug deeper and deeper as lake levels drop. The First Straw is good down to 1050 feet above sea level, which the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation originally predicted the lake might reach by January of 2016. The Second Straw goes down to 1000 feet, and the Third Straw is currently being built to reach 860 feet. Now it looks like they might need that Third Straw even sooner then they planned. It’s expected to be completed this summer. [Review Journal]

Top photo: USGS

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My question is.. If we can build a pipeline for oil from Canada to the southern U.S. Why on earth aren’t we building a pipeline or multiple pipelines from areas in the south and east that get flooded every single year and pump some of that fresh water to the west. The amount of rain we’ve had on the gulf coast in the last couple weeks alone could have put a massive dent in the California drought. If we pumped a small steady supply of water over there it would make a major impact. I guess while there are oil companies that will pay big bucks for the oil and infrastructure, no one gives a shit about the folks on the west coast and their crisis. Doesn’t seem like rocket science. 1” of rain on one acre is over 27,000 gallons of water.